A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941–1945

Vasilii Semenovich Grossman, Author, Vasily Grossman, Author , edited and trans. from the Russian by Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova. Pantheon $27.50 (400p) ISBN 978-0-375-42407-6

Soviet author Grossman volunteered for the army when the Germans invaded in 1941 and spent more than three years as a special correspondent at the front for the army newspaper Red Star . His wartime writing established him as a major "voice" of war—a status resembling in many ways that of Ernie Pyle in America. This volume, a perfect complement to the panoramic vision of Ivan's War , collects excerpts from Grossman's notebooks and published dispatches, few of them longer than a couple of paragraphs. And while the dispatches usually describe scenes fitting with Soviet orthodoxy, Grossman's notebooks also record the bloody-mindedness, the despair and the disaffection that permeated Soviet ranks as the Red Army paid its dues of learning how to fight a modern war. That material, of course, was not published at the time. Grossman was a perceptive observer with an eye for essential detail. His vignettes of the fighting at Kursk and the battles that brought the Red Army into Berlin are models of combat reporting, and the elegiac realism of his description of Treblinka merits wide anthologizing in Holocaust literature. This volume stands among the finest eyewitness accounts of Soviet Russia's war on the Eastern Front. (Jan. 10)

Reviewed on: 12/05/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
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